Quick Takes: Faust on the Military, Growth at Western Governors, Montgomery Adjuncts Unionize, IPO Market for For-Profit Higher Ed, When an Applicant is Filthy Rich and Fictional

June 5, 2008
  • In a much anticipated speech, Drew Faust on Wednesday praised the "glorious" tradition of military service at Harvard University, but as the new president of the institution, she also made a criticism (albeit with subtlety) of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that bars openly gay people from serving. Faust's talk came at the commissioning ceremony for Harvard graduates in the Reserve Officers Training Corps. Lawrence H. Summers, Faust's predecessor as president, made a point of attending the event each year, and Harvard watchers who want to promote military service said they wanted to see Faust do the same, but then criticized her when she indicated she would note opposition to the military's anti-gay bias. In her talk, she largely focused on praise for the dedication of those students who serve in ROTC. "You have awakened at dawn while your roommates slept in," she said. "You have jumped out of airplanes, challenged your bodies and your brains and become mentally and physically prepared for service. You have our respect for your choices, our admiration for your commitment, and our deep gratitude for your willingness to confront dangers on the nation’s behalf in the months and years to come." As to "don't ask, don't tell," her comments were brief enough that they could have been missed by those not looking for them: "The freedoms we enjoy depend vitally on the service you and your forebears have undertaken in our behalf. Indeed, I wish that there were more of you. I believe that every Harvard student should have the opportunity to serve in the military, as you do, and as those honored in the past have done."
  • Western Governors University, which was founded in 1997 as a collaboration of colleges in 19 states offering online programs, was for many years known for not meeting the ambitious goals of its founders. Projected to attract thousands of students within a few years, it initially attracted but scores of students. But the university has been growing lately, and on Wednesday announced that enrollment has hit 10,000, including students from all 50 states.
  • Adjunct faculty members at Montgomery College, in Maryland, have voted 365-105 to unionize and to affiliate with the Service Employees International Union, The Montgomery Gazette reported. Full-time faculty members at the college are represented by the American Association of University Professors.
  • With Grand Canyon Education planning an initial public offering, an article in The Wall Street Journal explores the state of the for-profit market on Wall Street. Several for-profit entities are seeing stocks increase, with analysts feeling particularly favorable about online education.
  • The magazine Radar has just published a series of transcripts designed to show how the children of the rich and famous are catered to, even if they don't deserve special treatment. The magazine had a writer pose as an assistant to various wealthy people, calling on behalf of their fictional offspring to see whether they would receive favorable treatment in landing a Congressional internship, or a book contract or ... some assistance from Wesleyan University's admissions office. For lucky Wesleyan, the magazine posed as someone calling on behalf of Jake Quiznos, the (imaginary) heir to the Quiznos sub empire. When Jake's representative tells the (unnamed) Wesleyan official that he'd like privacy on his tour, he's assured that he can have a private tour by an admissions official who notes that "when Mr. Spielberg came to visit, I gave him the tour myself." The admissions official says he'll try to get time for Jake with the university's president (possibly to discuss donations), and reassures Jake's aide that the young Quiznos will have no problem finding vegan food on campus. Naturally, the Quiznos heir needed reassurance that he wouldn't encounter a Subway on campus, and receives it. The Wesleyan official doesn't appear concerned after being told of Jake's low SAT scores (at least for Wesleyan), low grades, or "some shoplifting issues" that Jake's assistant says are definitely in the past and are now just the subject of Jake's poetry. Says the Wesleyan admissions official of these qualities: "I don't think they necessarily disqualify him off the bat. Is this someone who's able to show redemption? The admissions process is a very holistic process. We look at you from your grades to your recommendations to what you've shown that you're capable of doing. We don't see it as a one-factor kind of thing." Asked about the magazine's feature, a spokesman for Wesleyan told Inside Higher Ed Wednesday that the person who spoke to Radar was someone in the admissions office but declined to say who. The spokesman said that the person suspected the call might be a joke and "didn't want to be rude" in his answers.
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